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Drillbit Taylor

It's hard to root for the nerds-kick-ass comedy

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High school is miserable for three freshmen: fatty Ryan (Troy Gentile), beanpole Wade (Nate Hartley) and robot-voiced nerd Emmit (David Dorfman). After some intolerable bullying, the trio hires DrillbitTaylor (Owen Wilson), a homeless free-thinker who convinces them he is an Army Ranger with skills galore to impart. One would hope that this semi-raucous comedy, directed by Steven Brill, and from the House of Judd Apatow (he produced, and his colleague Seth Rogen co-wrote), would be provocatively funny, but Drillbit is a disappointment throughout. Wilson deals out his affable beach-bum persona again; the young actors have moments, but they're lumbered with a standard narrative -- underdogs versus big guys -- that not only takes too long to unfold, but suggests abusive violence is best countered with more abusive violence. (I never thought I'd pine for the genius of Revenge of the Nerds.) Our lads are at a vulnerable age that is fertile turf for keen-eyed sympathetic comedy and characterizations, but Drillbit is just one big wedgie. Starts Fri., March 21. (AH) [capsule review]

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